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Witness to Innocence and SAFE California

July 9, 2012

Recently three innocent men toured Southern California telling their stories. In school auditoriums, church sanctuaries, and even on the sidewalk of Venice Blvd, Californians heard three stories of innocent people convicted of murders they did not commit – and two of them were sentenced to death.

I had the privilege and honor of joining Kirk Bloodsworth, Franky Carrillo, and Nate Fields on the Los Angeles leg of their tour and heard them tell their stories. One thing Franky said has stuck with me: “What wasn’t supposed to happen, happened.”

I dwelled on that truth because, for me, it encapsulates the problem of wrongful conviction. People often want to have absolute confidence in the criminal justice system, to believe that criminals are found and convicted and innocent people are vindicated. That is what is supposed to happen. But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes criminals go free; sometimes innocent people are locked away.

For these three men, it took decades to correct the mistake. But there’s no way to know how many more are still waiting for justice.

That’s why Kirk, Nate, and Franky spend their time traveling the country telling their stories. They want everyone to know that mistakes in the justice system can happen—and as long as we have a death penalty, an innocent person can even lose their life.

But the trip had its light-hearted moments too. In between packed auditoriums, we all enjoyed a few tastes of the LA lifestyle -- cruising down Santa Monica Blvd, taking in the sun at Venice Beach, looking down on the city from the Hollywood Hills. Check out the photo album to see some highlights of the Witness to Innocence Tour of LA!

Blog written by James Clark, Southern California Regional Organizer for SAFE California.  Please read more about Witness to Innocence by visiting their website at http://witnesstoinnocence.org/